Where can we find one critical (or other) response to your work that you have found provocative, interesting, insightful or generative?
What do you suggest people might read in advance of hearing you? http://www.manifold.group.shef.ac.uk/issue9/SamanthaWalton9.html
What readings or performances most shook you up, and why?
Sean Bonney reading his translations of Baudelaire in The Chapel in Abney Park, Stoke Newington (2008, I think) was my introduction to proper poetry and remains one of the most painful and ecstatic readings I’ve ever been present at. Lila Matsumoto reading from Allegories of my Kitchen at the first Anathema night was playful, wry and enticing and made me want to jump up and down. Marianne Morris at the London Cross-Genre Festival (2010) remains one of the most tender and outraged readings I’ve ever witnessed. nick-e melville’s DOLE readings and exhibition, held in Interview Room 11 in Edinburgh, an abandoned council office with interview rooms for benefit claimants which briefly became an art and community space. The exhibition took place during the dog days of Tory austerity and the whole piece (full of visual and found poetry and readings in interview rooms which felt like interrogation suites) was a secret history, an elegy for the welfare state, and a battle cry.
What writing (or whose writing) is exciting you now?
It’s a clumsy term, but experimental life-writing and cross-genre forms of autobiography and criticism, like Maggie Nelson’s Argonauts, Joyce Johnson’s Minor Characters and Kate Zambreno’s Heroines. South Africa poetry against apartheid from the ‘70s and ‘80s, by writers like Mwafika Gwala and Sipho Sempala, which involves a raucous (and prohibited) hybrid of Zulu, Xhosa, jazz, Beat poetics and Black Consciousness. I wish I’d come across it sooner. I’m appreciating Emily Critchley’s Ten Thousand Things from Boiler House Press and click frantically whenever Sophie Robinson shares new work. More, please!
What/who do you wish people read more of?
I don’t really mind what people read! I guess more writing by women, by BAME writers, and from non-Anglophone traditions. As an academic, I research Scottish literature, and English people often ask if there is any Scottish Literature. Yes, there is! I’m not making it up. Try anything by Nan Shepherd, or Naomi Mitchison’s Memoirs of a Spacewoman.
What do you wish you read more of yourself?
Poetry. I mostly read novels.
What is your writing for? And what is it against?
My attitude towards writing and reading poetry is a mixture of amusement, embarrassment, frustration and tenderness, so I guess I’m for amusement, embarrassment, frustration and tenderness. I’m against grandstanding, teduous repetition, heroics, bigotry (obviously), and readings that go on forever. The best part of any reading is the drinking and talking afterwards.
Ask yourself a question you’d like to answer:
I love it when people ask me what poems and book excerpts they should read at weddings or funerals. I am a really useful resource, but people don’t ask enough.